A Selective Guide to the Arts in Los Angeles

Grant Gershon

Grant Gershon/photo by Steve Cohn Photography

If you’ve heard the 6,134-pipe Disney Hall organ, you know why every opportunity should be taken to hear it again. The next chance is Sun., Feb. 22, when the Los Angeles Master Chorale

presents an evening of “Chorus + Organ” at 7 p.m.

Now if you’re thinking this kind of music is not your thing, remember that Carl Orff’s popular “Carmina Burana” – a collection of dynamic songs based on medieval poems about everything from spring to drinking and which you’ve undoubtedly heard in movies and commercials – is choral music. Furthermore, the Master Chorale is not just any ensemble – it is the nation’s, and maybe the world’s, most innovative chorale group, thriving under its vibrant music director, Grant Gershon. They’ve commissioned 21 and premiered 51 new works, bringing vital spirit to an art form that goes all the way back to medieval Gregorian Chants.

I don’t know much about chorale music, but I was blown away by the gorgeous artistry of one of the Master Chorale’s recent concerts featuring a collaboration between choreographer Cheam Shapiro and composer Chinary Ung for the world premiere of “Spiral XII.” (As an interesting side note, the singers of the Master Chorale have been featured on movie soundtracks, including a personal favorite, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”)

On Sunday’s six-piece program are the world premieres of “Dream Variations” by Andrea Clearfield and Steven Sametz’s “Music’s Music” as well as the West Coast premiere of Nico Muhly’s “Expecting the Main Things From You.” Plus, there will be music by Bruckner, Liszt and Part. Christoph Bull is the featured organist.

Clearfield’s “Dream Variations,” written for flute, viola, harp and organ, will be performed with the Debussy Trio. “All About Jazz” said of the composer that she “is to be thanked for ‘daring to disturb the universe.’”

Sametz’s “Music’s Music,” was commissioned by Kathie and Alan Freeman in honor of Gershon, Executive Director Terry Knowles and the Master Chorale and features double choir, mezzo-soprano, obbligato clarinet and harp.

“Expecting the Main Things from You,” a three-movement piece for organ and string quartet, sounds like another rare treat, as the work of Muhly, who has collaborated with the likes of Bjork and Philip Glass, is rarely performed on the West Coast. He’ll also be at the concert.

Also of note is Arvo Pärt’s “De Profundis,” for men’s chorus, which, the press materials indicate, “starts at the lowest depth, as its title suggests, and uncoils into an eight-minute long crescendo and thundering climax with tam-tam (gong) and organ.” If that doesn’t sound awesome, I don’t know what does.

Tickets start at $19. Student rush tickets are $10.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles 90012, (213) 972-7282, www.lamc.org

photo by Steve Cohn Photography/courtesy of LA Master Chorale